Winter Obsession: Brussels Sprouts

Eat your Brussels sprouts. Yes, please!

Brussels sprouts, once the most dreaded vegetable of children and adults alike, are officially trendy. I’m a fan, and proudly not a bandwagon one — there was never a time in my life when I didn’t adore these sweet and nutty baby cabbages. During the fall and winter, when they’re at their prime, I cook them constantly and order them as soon as I spot them on a menu.

Emeril's pan-roasted Brussels sprouts + pancetta + parmigiano = Winter bliss.

They’re wonderful roasted whole (or halved, like in this Emeril recipe), chopped and sautéed hash-style, or deep-fried á la Momofuku. At the market, look for small, compact sprouts — they’re the most tender.

Brussels sprouts topped with a healthy dose of bacon at New York's DBGB.

Bacon is a relatively new friend of the humble Brussels sprout; the two are paired together on many a restaurant menu these days. Giada looks to Italy and roasts her sprouts with some chopped pancetta; Aaron Sanchez gives them a Spanish twist with chorizo.

Giada's Brussels sprouts have an Italian accent: They're laced with pancetta.

Brussels sprouts are excellent with a little pork (what isn’t?), but they certainly don’t need meat to shine. Nor do they have to be a lowly side dish. They’re the star of this completely vegetarian (vegan, if you leave out the ricotta salata that I grated on top) winter salad, in which they mingle beautifully with their cousin red cabbage.

A superb winter salad starring Brussels sprouts.

Though most of us can’t wait for this winter’s end and rejoiced optimistically when the groundhog saw his shadow last week, Brussels sprouts are one (okay, possibly the only) perk of the season. When spring approaches, they won’t be as tasty and tender, so fill up while temps are still chilly.

Salad inspired by this recipe from Nic Jammet of Washington D.C.’s Sweetgreen, via Food & Wine.

More Brussels Sprouts on Cooking Channel: